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Zhining Tao, Allen Williams, Ho-Chun Huang, Michael Caughey, and Xin-Zhong Liang

Abstract

Different cumulus schemes cause significant discrepancies in simulated precipitation, cloud cover, and temperature, which in turn lead to remarkable differences in simulated biogenic volatile organic compound (BVOC) emissions and surface ozone concentrations. As part of an effort to investigate the impact (and its uncertainty) of climate changes on U.S. air quality, this study evaluates the sensitivity of BVOC emissions and surface ozone concentrations to the Grell (GR) and Kain–Fritsch (KF) cumulus parameterizations. Overall, using the KF scheme yields less cloud cover, larger incident solar radiation, warmer surface temperature, and higher boundary layer height and hence generates more BVOC emissions than those using the GR scheme. As a result, the KF (versus GR) scheme produces more than 10 ppb of summer mean daily maximum 8-h ozone concentration over broad regions, resulting in a doubling of the number of high-ozone occurrences. The contributions of meteorological conditions versus BVOC emissions on regional ozone sensitivities to the choice of the cumulus scheme largely offset each other in the California and Texas regions, but the contrast in BVOC emissions dominates over that in the meteorological conditions for ozone differences in the Midwest and Northeast regions. The result demonstrates the necessity of considering the uncertainty of future ozone projections that are identified with alternative model physics configurations.

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Takamichi Iguchi, Toshihisa Matsui, Zhining Tao, Dongchul Kim, Charles M. Ichoku, Luke Ellison, and Jun Wang

Abstract

Series of aerosol transport hindcasts for West Africa were conducted using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model coupled to chemistry within the NASA-Unified WRF (NU-WRF) framework. The transport of biomass-burning aerosols in April and December 2009 was investigated over two types of simulation domains. One-month simulations with 9-km grid spacing for April or December 2009 covered most of North and West Africa and were evaluated by comparison with measurements of the total-column aerosol optical depth, Ångström exponent, and horizontal wind components at various pressure levels. The horizontal wind components at 700 hPa were identified as key factors in determining the transport patterns of biomass-burning aerosols from sub-Saharan West Africa to the Sahel. The vertical accumulation of biomass-burning aerosols close to 700 hPa was demonstrated in 1-day simulations with 1-km horizontal grid spacing. A new simple parameterization for the effects of heat release by biomass burning was designed for this resolution and tested together with the conventional parameterization based on fixed smoke injection heights. The aerosol vertical profiles were somewhat sensitive to the selection of parameterization, except for cases with the assumption of excessive heating by biomass burning. The new parameterization works reasonably well and offers flexibility to relate smoke transport to biomass-burning plume rise that can be correlated with the satellite fire radiative power measurements, which is advantageous relative to the conventional parameterization.

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Zhining Tao, Scott A. Braun, Jainn J. Shi, Mian Chin, Dongchul Kim, Toshihisa Matsui, and Christa D. Peters-Lidard

Abstract

A Saharan air layer (SAL) event associated with a nondeveloping African easterly wave (AEW) over the main development region of the eastern Atlantic was sampled by the NASA Global Hawk aircraft on 24–25 August 2013 during the NASA Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) campaign and was simulated with the NASA Unified Weather Research and Forecasting (NU-WRF) Model. Airborne, ground-based, and spaceborne measurements were used to evaluate the model performance. The microphysical and radiative effects of dust and other aerosols on the SAL structure and environment were investigated with the factor-separation method. The results indicate that relative to a simulation without dust–radiative and microphysical impacts, Saharan dust and other aerosols heated the SAL air mainly through shortwave heating by the direct aerosol–radiation (AR) effect, resulting in a warmer (up to 0.6 K) and drier (up to 5% RH reduction) SAL and maintaining the strong temperature inversion at the base of the SAL in the presence of predominant longwave cooling. Radiative heating of the dust accentuated a vertical circulation within the dust layer, in which air rose (sank) in the northern (southern) portions of the dust layer. Furthermore, above and to the south of the dust layer, both the microphysical and radiative impacts of dust tended to counter the vertical motions associated with the Hadley circulation, causing a small weakening and southward shift of convection in the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) and reduced anvil cloud to the north. Changes in moisture and cloud/precipitation hydrometeors were largely driven by the dust-induced changes in vertical motion. Dust strengthened the African easterly jet by up to ~1 m s−1 at the southern edge of the jet, primarily through the AR effect, and produced modest increases in vertical wind shear within and in the vicinity of the dust layer. These modulations of the SAL and AEW environment clearly contributed to the nondevelopment of this AEW.

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